Thursday, July 4, 2013
It's difficult to ignore the cultural obsession with going green -- in large part because you can't escape companies advertising their green initiatives, but also because the negative impact we have on our environment is right in front of our faces. Waste and pollution are worsening, but technologies are only making it easier and easier for us to make nominal changes that add up to make a big impact. At this point, if you're not at least implementing a recycling program or trying to go paperless, you're simply not paying attention to how easy it is and the benefits that come with it. Of course, it's not a change that happens overnight, but it's easy to start with small changes, then incorporate bigger and bigger ones.
In comparison with other types of commercial buildings - like restaurants, warehouses, and retail locations - offices have it fairly easy when it comes to making changes. One small step that makes a big difference is switching to recycled paper. There are plenty of brands of printer paper available that are recycled, or even made from post-consumer materials.
If you're going to swap out your printer paper, you might as well go the whole nine yards and take care of the ink, too. The process for making and disposing of ink cartridges is not very eco-friendly -- or at least, it wasn't until innovators like Yoel Wazana came along and made it easy to purchase recycled and recyclable toner cartridges. It's a change you'll barely notice once it's implemented, but it makes a big difference since offices do use so much paper and ink.
These changes might require a bigger up-front cost, but the overall payoff is great. For one, you could implement new timed thermostats for your HVAC system to make sure you're not overusing energy or resources. Heating and cooling systems are some of the biggest culprits in wasting energy, so if you set your thermostat to turn down or off when there are fewer people in the office rather than running consistently throughout the day, it will make a big difference on a monthly basis. You'll also find that your bills are lowered as a result, so it's a win-win.
There is also the option of going paperless. Send out e-mails informing your clients that you will be doing all your invoicing and newsletters through e-mail, implement direct deposit for your employees, and keep all your work-related records backed up on cloud software. It's more convenient in the long run once the transition is made, and saves you a ton of paper waste.
Many companies are revamping their entire buildings to make them more efficient. One way of doing this is by implementing a reflective roof if you live in a warmer climate. Reflective roofing helps prevent the building from absorbing heat, keeping it up to 30% cooler inside. In turn, your air conditioner will no longer need to work overtime! Other buildings have implemented green plumbing systems in which the toilets use less water to flush when possible to conserve resources.
It's a process to transition your office building into an eco-friendly one, but if you've got a vision like Yoel Wazana did, you'll see it's extremely possible. The benefits are great for both you and the environment - there's virtually no reason not to embark on the endeavor.
Ashely is part of a team of writers that has contributed to environmental blogs and news sites. To see more, check out her Twitter @ashelymarie1985.